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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Responsibility

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

The Washington Post is reporting that John Kline will not be sued for statements he made about last year's massacre of Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq.

Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who is alleged to have participated in the killings, filed suit against Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha for libel, insisting that public statements Murtha had made about events in Haditha prejudged his case. Attorneys had threatened to add John Kline to the suit for making similar statements, but Kline has apologized, saying ". . . as a Marine officer, I would never want to publicly insinuate, implicitly or explicitly, that I have prejudged what took place that day on the battlefield or afterwards."

We take Congressman Kline's words at face value. Certainly, we would not want to accuse him of publicly disparaging our troops fighting in Iraq. But the fact remains that Kline made some fairly conclusive statements about Haditha, and he isn't taking responsibility for them.

According the the Post, Kline effectively blames the media for his troubles:

Kline wrote that news outlets used incomplete statements that gave the false impression that he had concluded the Marines broke the law.

Yet there are several reasonably complete statements from various media outlets which show that Kline himself gave the impression he had concluded the Marines broke the law. Statements like:

Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican who is a retired Marine colonel, said that the allegations indicated that "this was not an accident. This was direct fire by marines at civilians." He added, "This was not an immediate response to an attack. This would be an atrocity." - New York Times, May 26, 2006

and:

"There is no question that the Marines involved, those doing the shooting, they were busy in lying about it and covering it up — there is no question about it," Kline said. - Los Angeles Times, May 27, 2006

and:

Representative John Kline, a Republican and a former marine, said: "This was a small number of marines who fired directly on civilians and killed them. This is going to be an ugly story … There is no doubt that the marines allegedly involved in doing this lied about it. They certainly tried to cover it up." - The Sunday Herald (Scotland), June 4, 2006

Everyone makes mistakes, so it's understandable that John Kline may have made stronger statements about Haditha than he intended. But by issuing an 'apology' in which he blames the media for his statements, he falls short of demonstrating the kind of responsibility and accountability we need and expect from our public officials.

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